Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry "Doc" Shepherd re-unites with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon and Reverend Richard Mueller, to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.
Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.
The film follows fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson. He wants a home, food on the table and a high school he can attend for more than part of the year. As the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, stability is hard to find. Hoping for a new start they move to Portland, Oregon where Charley takes a summer job, with a washed-up horse trainer, and befriends a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete.
It was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress by Charlie Plummer. See more »
Modern flat screen televisions are shown in at least 2 scenes, yet the film seems to be set in the 1990s, with old cell phones, pay phone, information operators, and older vehicles. See more »
You know, I was a cook for two years once I dropped out of school.
Yeah, I know.
It's no way to live, though. Getting up at four every morning. Getting hit by grease all day. People complaining, orders backing up. It's no way to live.
Yeah, but you get free food?
Yeah, you get free food. But let me tell you, you end up hating food. But there are waitresses. Hm. You like waitresses, don't you?
Yeah, I guess.
The best women... have all been waitresses at some point. So, what have you learned?
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This drama from Andrew Haigh about an adolescent boy caring for a quarter horse may be paced slowly, but its unique sense of melancholy slowly creeps up on the viewer. The film uses a mix of thoughtful but down-to-earth dialogue and stunning shots of the American West to immerse the viewer in its world. These two elements manage to coexist quite well in the film. I was impressed by the quality of the acting in the film, as Haigh wisely directs his cast to choose a deep-seated and authentic sense of realism over sentimental value in their performances. The film moves at a leisurely but commendable and never tedious pace. Its tone is often quite dark at times and its themes can be quite heavy, but patient viewers who stay with the film will be rewarded. It is important to understand that thankfully, such tone and themes never feel sentimental or sappy, which is all to the film's genuine benefit. The film's depiction of poorer and rural Americans in the West provides for thoughtful and compassionate social commentary in a manner similar to something like J.D. Vance's stunning memoir "Hillbilly Elegy." Haigh should be praised for ensuring that such depiction is never portrayed in a trivialized manner.
My main criticism of the film--and the key element that keeps it from greatness--is that the film often plays it too safe in its narrative and stylistic choices. While the movie never feels predictable and often feels gritty, a mild philosophical change in how the film could have been constructed could have made some scenes feel somewhat less derivative. That said, this is a well-made and well-acted drama. Recommended to those interested. 7/10
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